House Report: IRS Prioritized Bonuses And Union Activity Over Customer Service

The House Ways and Means Committee released a report Wednesday showing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) prioritized bonuses for employees and union activity in the face of budget cuts.

Entitled “Doing Less with Less: The IRS’s Spending Decisions Harm Taxpayers,” the committee’s findings were staggering. They include:

  • This IRS made a 73 percent reduction in user fees allocated to customer service, and a 6 percent decrease in total funding for taxpayer assistance.
  • The IRS awarded $60 million in bonuses to its employees, at a time when the IRS did not yet know what its budget would be for fiscal year 2015.
  • The amount of time IRS employees spent on union activity would allow for over 2 million additional taxpayer-assistance calls.
  • If the IRS contracted with private debt collectors it could increase its own enforcement budget by more than $100 million every year.

The report comes just one week after IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said his agency could not handle customer demand:

Customer service – both on the phone and in person – has been far worse than anyone would want. It’s simply a matter of not having enough people to answer the phones and provide service at our walk-in sites as a result of cuts to our budget

“At all times, but especially during tax season, the IRS should put the taxpayer first. But instead, the agency cut funding for the very customer service that taxpayers rely on. The IRS has a lot to answer for, and the Ways and Means Committee is going to hold it accountable,” said Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., lashed into Koskinen even further during a hearing of the Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Wednesday.

The IRS has blamed the decline in customer service on budget cuts. But Congress didn’t cut the IRS’s budget for taxpayer assistance from 2014 to 2015.

Let me repeat that. The amount of money Congress appropriated to the IRS for taxpayer assistance was the same this year as last year, but the level of service has decreased drastically.The Commissioner himself has said that taxpayer assistance this year is quote ‘abysmal.’

h/t: Fox News

Do you think the IRS needs reforming?

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Lower Benefits, Higher Jobs — Paul Ryan Has It Right

Photo credit: Christopher Halloran /

Neel Kashkari, the Republican candidate for governor of California, just recounted in The Wall Street Journal his week on the streets of Fresno posing as a homeless man looking for work. At the end of his op-ed, Kashkari lamented that he didn’t need a higher minimum wage, paid sick leave, or a health care plan. What he needed was a job.

And Kashkari made the important point that all those government benefits, especially extended unemployment benefits, are work disincentives that may actually block job creation.

To be sure, there are signs that employment in the country is rising more rapidly these days. The February-July period was the first six-month stretch of consistent employment gains above 200,000 since 1997. And that came without any new programs from the federal government to “create jobs.” Even more surprising, those gains overlapped a quarter in which the gross domestic product actually contracted.

So what drove the increase? University of Chicago professor Casey Mulligan put his finger on it: “Major subsidies and regulations intended to help the poor and unemployed … reduce incentives for people to work and for businesses to hire.” And guess what happened when federal emergency job assistance ended? Job increases were the best they had been in 17 years.

Economists tend to focus primarily on the demand for labor in analyzing employment trends, giving short shrift to the supply of labor. Indeed, given the harsh winter weather and first-quarter drop in real GDP, it’s hard to believe that the demand for labor increased significantly in February and March. But is there anything about the supply of labor that could explain the improvement in employment?

Well, there is a very good reason to believe that extending unemployment benefits to a maximum of 99 weeks in recent years held back the labor supply. Rather than take a job, potential workers could more easily lengthen their job searches, hold out for higher-wage positions, or just choose not to work.

However, supply-side theory would also suggest that as extended unemployment benefits expired at the end of last year — despite major hand-wringing from the president and Democratic leaders — workers would go back to work. And they did. Technically, this would be visible as an outward expansion of the supply-of-labor curve. Without the crutch of continued unemployment benefits, workers are willing to take jobs, even at a somewhat lower wage. They know that work is its own virtue.

Now, if the demand for labor is steady, what would be the implications of an increased labor supply? Here, as the supply curve shifts, economic analysis would suggest that wages might fall somewhat–but the level of employment would increase. And guess what? Since the month after extended unemployment benefits expired, the number of employed workers has increased, the employment-to-population ratio has increased (59 percent in July, versus 58.8 percent in February), and the civilian labor force has increased (to 156 million in July, from 155.7 million in February.) Average hourly earnings growth remains sluggish, at only 0.2 percent per month over the past six months; but at least wages have risen modestly while employment gains have increased markedly.

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This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Boehner Just Got What He Needed To Make Obama’s Life Miserable

Boehner Eyeing Obama

A proposal announced earlier this month by House Speaker John Boehner received overwhelming Republican support Wednesday in a vote that authorizes Congress to file a lawsuit against Barack Obama.

Although not a single Democrat voted for the resolution, it passed by vote of 225 to 201. As NBC News reported, the legislation does not require the support of the Democrat-controlled Senate. That fact did not stop Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from weighing in on the development via Twitter.

Prior to the House vote, Obama called the initiative a “political stunt.”

Before presenting the measure for a vote, Boehner explained that his motivation is not based on partisanship.

“This isn’t about Republicans and Democrats,” he said, “it’s about defending the Constitution that we swore an oath to uphold.”

Boehner, who has publicly rejected calls for impeachment proceeding from many within his own party, has indicated that he believes this suit is the appropriate legislative step toward holding Obama accountable for unconstitutional use of executive power.

Rep. Paul Ryan, who does not feel Obama’s actions have risen to the impeachment threshold, has been a vocal supporter of Boehner’s plan. Even some who might otherwise favor impeachment have expressed concern that the Democrat Party would seize on any such proposal as a way to rally financial support ahead of the upcoming midterm elections.

Nevertheless, some Democrats in the House continue to assert that the suit might be a step in that direction.

“’Impeachment is off the table,’” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stated prior to Wednesday’s vote. “Why hasn’t the speaker said that? Why are there those in your caucus who won’t deny that that is a possible end in sight for this ill-fated legislation?”

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz released a statement defending his vote and the overall intent of the lawsuit.

“I feel a keen responsibility to preserve and maintain the balance of power laid out in the Constitution,” he asserted. “Ultimately, if successful, this action will restrain excesses by future presidents of both parties and restore the checks and balances that were so carefully constructed by this nation’s Founding Fathers.”

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Here’s Why Paul Ryan Thinks Impeachment Would Only Strengthen Obama


As several high-profile conservatives speak out in favor of initiating impeachment proceedings against Barack Obama, others are decidedly less supportive of such action.

While several Tea Party leaders, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, believe that Obama’s policy of de facto amnesty and a litany of other abuses qualify as impeachable offenses, Rep. Paul Ryan thinks such a pursuit would only play into the hands of this administration.

“I see this sort of a ridiculous game by the president and his political team to try and change the narrative, raise money and turn out their base for an upcoming election that they feel is not going to go their way,” he said during a recent event in D.C. “And I’ll just leave it at that.”

His concern echoes recent comments by fellow GOP Rep. Steve Stockman who said, although he agrees that Obama deserves impeachment, the prospect would only embolden Democrats. Ryan, on the other hand, does not share Stockman’s view regarding the seriousness of Obama’s offenses.

Even a senior White House source recently confirmed that impeachment is a real potential outcome.

According to Ryan’s estimation, Obama’s actions while in the White House have failed to reach “the high crimes and misdemeanor level.”

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy, whose recent book lays out the case for Obama’s impeachment, responded to Ryan’s claim in a National Review editorial Wednesday.

As defined by the nation’s founders, he asserted that the term ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ does not refer specifically to indictable offenses, but “could involve dereliction of duty, lies to Congress or the public about serious matters, the failure to honor an oath (such as the oath to execute the laws faithfully), and any conduct that intentionally undermines the governing framework that safeguards our liberties and security (the president, of course, takes an oath to preserve the Constitution).”

Ryan does, however, support House Speaker John Boehner’s plan to sue Obama for his unauthorized use of executive power, calling that a more “responsible” approach to handling the president’s abuses.

“He’s trying to stand up for congressional prerogatives,” he said, confirming that he plans to vote in favor of the suit. “We want to show we’re not taking this lying down.”

Photo credit: Christopher Halloran /

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

What Paul Ryan Just Said Will Have Obama Shaking In His Boots

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons)

House Speaker John Boehner made waves on both sides of the aisle this month when he announced his intention to file a lawsuit against Barack Obama over alleged misuse of executive power.

Though Boehner indicated that he does not support impeachment as an ultimate resolution, a White House source this week brought up the suit in a statement suggesting that such an effort by GOP leaders is a growing possibility.

In a 7-4 vote this week, Politico reports that members of the House Rules Committee paved the way for the lawsuit to be presented to Congress, likely in a legislative vote to take place next week.

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan recently spoke out in favor of the lawsuit, indicating that he will support the initiative when the time comes to cast his vote.

During an MSNBC interview Friday, Paul addressed concerns that pursuing the suit would take focus off of more pressing issues legislators currently face.

“We can walk and chew gum at the same time,” Ryan said. “We can juggle a lot of bills. We are working on border security, foreign policy, appropriations and many things at one time.”

He concluded that exploring action against Obama can also be added to the mix, noting that “it’s not as if this displaces action on other items.”

Ryan asserted that it is incumbent upon Republicans in the House to keep the executive branch in check pursuant to the separation of powers included in the U.S. Constitution.

“We’re very concerned about the lawlessness of the administration exceeding the executive branch’s authority,” he said.

Ryan’s vocal support of this measure comes after he made comments earlier this year criticizing Obama for his overreach in pushing through his healthcare law.

“He unilaterally waived and delayed the employer mandate,” Ryan said in January. “He unilaterally waived other mandates, which the law doesn’t allow him to do.”

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons)

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom